Photos of Simon and his workshop by Peter Smith.
The original Mayhi was a wooden estuary sailing boat, with a characteristic shallow draft and with broad beam enabling a large sail area. It was launched around 1910. By 2010 it had sadly reached a state of dereliction where a simple restoration was no longer possible. The new Mayhi is a beautiful reconstruction with exquisite detailing displaying fine shipwright skills. It is hoped that sea trials will begin in October.
Simon Grillet had initiated a shipwright training course at Standard Quay when it was still a working shipyard. Apprentices from the scheme gained real practical experience working a variety of repair and restoration projects, including the National Lottery funded £1.4 million rebuild of the sailing barge Cambria (the last barge to trade entirely under sail, taking her last cargo in 1970) at the Quay.
When the lease of the Quay was not renewed, the Faversham Creek Trust generously provided a large internal space in the Purifier Building where Simon had the opportunity to recommence shipwright training. After several setbacks, including a disastrous fire which destroyed most of Simon’s tools which he had collected over his working life, as well as all the expensive carefully selected wood sourced from round the world, the reconstruction of the Mayhi was the result.
Great credit is due to ‘Bert ’ (Wayne) Pengelly who survived five years of instruction under Simon and has emerged with a fine set of woodworking skills. Bert was responsible for much of the completed boat.
The Mayhi had for some years been moored at Standard Quay before being hauled out when she lost the structural integrity to stay afloat. When starting the apprentice training scheme at the Purifier Building, I needed a restoration project on which to base the training. The Mayhi, 27 ft long, was the right size and both interesting and with a pretty enough hull to justify the effort. She was however not only extremely decayed, but her shape had distorted to the extent that a full reconstruction would be required to bring her back to life (with the aid of three thousand hand tapped rivets).
She has been traditionally reconstructed using Spruce, Cedar and Iroko and is now as close as I can get to the shape she was originally intended to be. The only thing known about her origins was that she was built in Ramsgate before the First World War by an unknown builder or designer. Her measurements would suggest that she was a racing boat built to the 10 Rater rule* of the 1890’s.
*a rule prescribed by the Royal Yachting Association which defined dimensions and sail area for racing yachts.
This lack of pedigree allowed me to slightly alter some aspects of the boat, such as building the cabin roof from cedar plank sheathed fibreglass, a modern boatbuilding technique which I felt the apprentices would benefit from learning.
We are looking forward to finding out if she sails as good as she looks.